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Natural Awakenings Washington DC Metro

Stress Relief for Vets

Mar 07, 2014 06:23AM

Silver Spring acupuncturist, Kay Madsen is participating in the Military Stress Recovery Project (MSRP), which offers free acupuncture treatments to combat veterans and their families. Madsen, of the Family Acupuncture Center, is holding community treatment sessions using an auricular protocol treatment that has been very successful treating patients who have experienced a variety of traumatic situations.


In this treatment method, individuals sit fully clothed in a circle of chairs and the licensed acupuncturist places five tiny needles on each ear. This protocol was originally designed by National Acupuncture Detox Association (NADA), to help people overcoming addiction. It has also been widely used by Acupuncturists Without Borders (AcuWithoutBorders.org), to treat people suffering trauma after natural disasters.

Since veterans typically get free medical care through the military, and acupuncture is not widely used in the military medical care system, vets seldom experience its benefits. For the anxiety, depression, insomnia, flashbacks and suicidal thoughts common to PTSD sufferers, Madsen says, “Western medicine therapies used with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are only minimally effective.” This program presents an opportunity to share acupuncture with a population that typically doesn’t benefit from it.

In acupuncture, the ear is considered a ‘micro system’ in the sense that a small part of the body acts as a map of the whole body. Madsen shares, “If you treat a place that is reflective, you are treating something larger.” Foot reflexology works from the same principle in that the foot acts as a map of the entire human body. One point on the ear is for the sympathetic nervous system, which controls our fight or flight response. In PTSD, the system is turning on and causes the person to relive an earlier experience. “A lot of times there is a trigger for that. It can be something like a smell, a color, something that was present,” Madsen explains, when the person was in a traumatic situation.

What is happening in PTSD is ‘temporal displacement’ where the person feels that he or she is no longer in the present moment. By using acupuncture for combat veterans, on the point that refers to the sympathetic nervous system, it effectively tells the body, not to engage because you are not in combat.

Madsen says, “The outcome is like you are re-booting your computer.” The procedure retrains the body and brain connection so that these innocent triggers remain innocent phenomenon.

These free sessions for veterans will be on the first and third Wednesdays of the month at her Silver Spring office at 13415 Connecticut Avenue, Suite 204, Silver Spring. Treatments are 30 minutes long and start on the hour and the half hour from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. 

For more information call 240-393-5420 or visit FamilyAcupunctureCenter.org.

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